Successful talks require change of attitude, not venue, says Long

Alliance Leader Naomi Long MLA has said a change of attitude, not venue, is required to see the talks process reach a successful conclusion in the New Year.

Mrs Long said while 2017 had been a frustrating year politically, 2018 promised more, if parties showed a renewed commitment to restoring the institutions.

“This past year was one in which political progress was grindingly slow and where relationships between parties became incredibly strained and fractious. Thanks to the ongoing impasse, people are hurting and our public services are suffering, all while we continue to see an absence of locally accountable political decision-making.

“However, instead of a change of talks venue, as has been rumoured, we need to see a change of attitude from some of the participants. If so, I have no doubt we can still move forward together in a respectful and cooperative manner, restoring the institutions and delivering the progress Northern Ireland desperately needs.

“For that progress to be made, it will also require changes to the way the talks process is conducted, to combat tension and mistrust between parties, as well as between parties and the two Governments. That will involve appointing an independent facilitator to ensure negotiations are as inclusive and focused as possible.

“The new year will mark the 20th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement. That was the culmination of many years of hard work and effort. Despite its flaws, the Agreement was designed to deliver the opportunity of stability, peace and prosperity. It is vital we don’t allow that progress to disappear with a whimper but rather we build on it to work through the issues and find solutions in the interests of restoring the institutions and delivering for everyone.”

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